My Paleo Story

In seventh grade, the boys called me “Chubby Chipmunk”. I can’t really blame them, because I did look like I was storing acorns in my cheeks, but their words hurt, and I’ve kept them with me since. Back then, I had dreams of becoming a famous fashion designer, and really looked up to models, celebrities, and Miss America beauty queens. I wanted to fit into “little black Gucci” dresses like Posh Spice, and constantly compared my size to that of others around me.  My appearance was something I worried about, and I still worry about it today.

Oh so chubby!
Oh so chubby!

I became overweight the same way everyone does: over-eating, lots of unhealthy foods, and lack of exercise. Nothing new there. For the most part everyone in my family was overweight, and it was just normal to me. However, one day when a shopping trip for a sophomore formal dress ended in tears, my mother and I decided to make a change. We decided to start one of the low-carb fad diets that was very popular at the time. We both lost about 50-60 lbs and couldn’t have been happier. I was able to keep the weight off for about 2-3 years, but once I got to college, all bets were off. I stopped strictly following the diet plan, and gained all of it back and then some.

I ate pasta almost every day because it was cheap and easy, went for late night McDonald’s or calzone runs with my sister, and drink copious amounts of sugary beverages with friends. I was a hot mess. My face was as round as could be and covered in cystic rosacea, I had gastrointestinal discomfort everyday, I was exhausted all the time and never wanted to do anything that required excessive movement, and I had pretty awful self-esteem. I graduated from college feeling large and in charge and decided to make a change when I went to graduate school the coming fall.

Here you can see how bad my rosacea was freshman year of college.
My rosacea was out of control freshman year of college.

I began grad school in a new state where I didn’t know anyone. It was the perfect opportunity to start fresh and change what I did not like about myself. I made amazing friends and we would work out everyday together and actually enjoy it. We joined classes at the school gym, and participated in their “Biggest Loser”-type challenges. I won 2 terms in a row for the largest percentage of weight loss, and I felt fantastic. I began school around a whopping 230 lbs, and was able to work down to about 190 lbs after about 8 months or so. At this point, I was living off of brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and vanilla yogurt with granola. I still had my rosacea and stomach problems, but I was thinner, and in my mind, that was good.

Me at my white coat ceremony in 2010, at my all time heaviest.
At my white coat ceremony in 2010. My all time heaviest.

That is when I finally met my main squeeze. We clicked right off the bat, and have been together since. He told me that he was living a “Primal” lifestyle, and that he didn’t eat processed foods, including rice, bread, and pasta. I would laugh at him and say “Whole grains are good for you!” He was fit as could be, so eventually I started to listen to what he had to say, and eventually  I read “The Primal Blueprint” for myself. It took me some getting used to, but as a doctor in training, I really appreciated  the science that Mark Sisson used to support his theories, and eventually everything just clicked. Soon I was reading Paleo blogs left and right, and buying as many paleo and primal cookbooks I could afford. I began to enjoy cooking with new ingredients, and ended up expanding my palate quite a bit.

Since starting my paleo journey, I have had a lot of ups and downs. I have been able to maintain my weight pretty well, but have struggled with actually losing weight. For the longest time, I was eating about 60% primally nutritious foods and 40% treats. Overall I felt okay, but I was pretty exhausted all the time and never had energy to exercise. I’m sure my overloaded school schedule was partially to blame, but I am certain my diet did not help the situation either. If I skipped a meal I would be starving, and my stomach troubles were worse than ever. It was only this past summer that I really started to eat 80% primally nutritious foods 20% paleo approved treats. Since then, I have noticed a HUGE difference in my digestive system, and even my rosacea has improved! I am able to skip meals without wanting to chew my arm off, and I still have energy afterwards. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a long way to go, but it is these changes that really help me to see how much this lifestyle is improving my health.

Posing before a wedding this past September.
Posing before a wedding this past September.

Currently, I am in my last, and most stressful year of school. I am exhausted everyday, and have no energy to exercise. I try to eat as healthy as I can, but sometimes it is impossible. The holidays are coming up, which are always a struggle for me, and I am sure a lot of you too. I am also going to be in a friend’s wedding next summer, in which I have to wear a sari. I have to hand over my measurements to her this weekend, and I gotta say, I really don’t want to. However, the goal is to need major alterations to the garment come time of the wedding. I am trying to make little goals for myself in the meantime (ie. do PEMs twice a week), to help get myself there. I look forward to writing a post 9 months from now with a picture of me in that sari! I know there will be a big change, not only in my appearance, but also in how I feel.

Let me know in the comments where you are in your transformation, and if you have any motivators that have helped you along the way. I would love any extra advice anyone has for me!

Until next time!

xo Becky

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